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Back to square one

After six years of battling over a disclosure case, the ECJ has failed to make any significant progress over the issue of access to official documents, argues Paul Stanley QC

15 August 2011

Successful appeals from decisions of the General Court are infrequent; for the ECJ to conclude, in effect, that the General Court approached a case in a fundamentally incorrect way is rarer still. The ECJ’s decision in case C-506/08 P MyTravel Group plc (21 July 2011) is therefore striking.

The case stretches back into what is now ancient history. In 1999, the European Commission declared a concentration between Airtours (later MyTravel) and its competitor First Choice was incompatible with the common market. That decision was annulled by the General Court in 2002. As the dust settled, the commission established a working group, consisting of members of the directorate-general for competition and the legal service, to decide what to do and in particular whether to appeal. That group presented its report, but in the event there was no appeal.

In 2005, MyTravel requested various documents pursuant to the EU’s freedom of information legislation, including the r...

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